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Guru jailed for French nobility 'brainwash' scam

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10:41 CET+01:00
Thierry Tilly was jailed for eight years by a Bordeaux court on Tuesday after being found guilty of robbing an aristocratic French family by convincing them they were the subject of a Masonic plot.

The so-called Oxford guru, after the UK university town which he had made his base, was also stripped of his civic rights for five years, according to a report by the 20minutes.fr website.

Tilly's accomplice, Jacques Gonzalez, was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

The pair stood accused of having swindled eleven members of the de Védrines family out of a total of $5 million ($6.34 million) after persuading them that they alone could save them from a secret Masonic plot.

Claiming to be a descendant of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg nobility, Tilly convinced the family to barricade themselves into their ancestral home of Château Martel near Monflanquin in the department of Lot-et-Garonne.

The château was ultimately seized by the French fiscal authorities after the increasing reclusive family stopped paying their taxes and sold off in 2007.

The family then moved to Oxford in southern England, where they lived in a number of suburban homes with some family members working menial jobs such as gardeners and cleaners.

Tilly's reign of psychological terror against the family came to an end when he was arrested in Switzerland in 2009. Christine de Védrines had in 2008 fled Oxford telling police that she had been violently abused by Tilly and her family for failing to reveal the location of a secret fortune that they were convinced she possessed.

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